5 Ways Biochemistry Makes You Want Another Donut
The endocannabinoid system in your body regulates the need “to eat or not to eat.” When the level of endocannabinoids (eCBs) is high, your body will want to consume food. If the eCB levels are low, your body recognizes that it is full. However, it’s not such a simple process. There are eCBs not only in your brain, but all over your body that can make eating seem necessary. Here are 5 ways that the eCB system makes you hungry.
1. The eCBs in your retina make you want food when you see it.
When you see a picture, commercial, or food in a grocery store, the eCB system in your retinas become activated and send signals to your brain. Once your brain receives the signal, you recall the enjoyable memory of eating the food you saw. Because seeing the food brings enjoyable memories, you want to feel the joy again, making you hungry for that food.
2. The more fat you eat, the more fat you will want in the future.
Your diet actually has more effect on what you crave than you would expect. If you have a high fat diet, more eCBs will be produced and the more fatty foods you will want in the future. Because of this, obesity by diet can be seen as something that can be controlled by will power. If you have the will power to wean yourself off fatty and unhealthy foods of a diet that can cause obesity, your body will not crave unhealthy foods as much. High sugar diets also have a similar effect.
3. Dopamine is linked to eCBs when you use food as a reward.
Since a lot of people tend to eat food as a reward, dopamine (happy neurotransmitter) levels increase when you eat. Just like any addiction, food can become addicting if used as a reward. More dopamine receptors are produced making you want more dopamine which you produce when you eat food.
4. Your gut talks to your brain.
Just like how there are eCBs in your retinas to signal to your brain that you see something delicious, there are also eCBs in your stomach. The eCBs in your stomach tell your vagus nerve that it’s full which then relays the information to other eCBs in your brain.
5. Obese patients have higher levels of eCBs.
Obesity is largely due to eating behavior. It’s not only considered a metabolic disease. Sure, some people may have genetic problems, but with today’s society, who has the time to eat healthy and exercise? This unhealthy habit of eating fast and easy food is ultimately leading people to an obese future. In obese patients, the levels of eCBs are generally higher – causing the feeling of hunger to be persistent – while the activity of proteins that break down eCBs is considerably lower.
In primal times, the eCB system was necessary to survival. Now that we have full access to food pretty much all the time, the survival necessity of the eCB system has become unnecessary. We can almost immediately respond to any feelings of hunger and with any food we want, thus causing our eCBs to be thrown out of whack. So the next time you reach for that donut, be thinking about your endocannabinoids. Are you really that hungry, or are your eCBs telling you that your body wants more of what you’ve given it in the past?
For a more in depth, scientific visual of the endocannabinoid system, check out this video!